Friday, December 04, 2009

Guest post: "Reconstructing the American Revolution," by J.M. Hochstetler

Today inspirational historical fiction author J. M. (Joan) Hochstetler is stopping by Reading the Past to discuss her interest in American colonial and Revolutionary War history and how it relates to her fiction. Welcome, Joan!


History has been a major interest of mine since I was in high school. Coming from an Amish/Mennonite background, I was steeped in it from the beginning. Faith, family, church, and community are very important to the Amish and Mennonites, and the Hochstetler family has an especially interesting history that’s well known in the community and is regularly recounted. So that had a powerful impact on my life and interests.

In college I learned to love doing research and especially learning about the lives of people from different periods. For me, the dry facts of history have always represented the stories of real people just like me. Now as a writer, I have the privilege of bringing the past to life for others. I’ve had readers tell me that they hated studying history in school, but that in reading my novels, suddenly this period, these events, and the lives of the people of the time opened up to them and became real. That’s what keeps me writing.

I’m particularly attracted to the American colonial and Revolutionary periods because it’s the seminal story of our nation’s founding. I’ve grown very concerned that our citizens today know so little about the founding of our nation. My fear is that if we don’t learn our own history and the values that have been handed down to us, we’ll lose the precious heritage of liberty our Founders sacrificed so much to gain. I hope and pray that the blood they spilled has not been sacrificed in vain.

In the American Patriot Series my goal is to write a comprehensive fiction series on the American Revolution. I’m not aware of any others that portray all aspects of it, including the experience of colonists, African Americans, Native Americans, and women. This period is chock full of fascinating people who lived in a lively and diverse culture in many ways similar to our own. They were involved in thrilling, scary, intriguing, and crucial events that shaped our nation, events that sound surprisingly familiar because we see many similar things happening all around us today.

I construct these stories by simply dropping my fictional characters right in the middle of the critical events of our nation’s founding, where they interact with the real historical people who were involved in them. That gives me the opportunity to include many of the recorded words and actions of the real historical figures as well as details from history such as storms and other natural phenomena that affected the outcomes of battles. What results is a narrative that is as dynamic and thrilling as the real events because it’s based solidly on fact.

I believe passionately that history matters. God calls us to remember all the ways he has blessed us in the past. When we look back, we can see his hand of guidance through trials and gather hope, confidence, trust, and faith that God will continue to guide and bless us as we follow his leading. History teaches us that we are part of the stream of life, part of the legacy of faith that runs through our own families and our nation from their beginnings, part of something bigger than ourselves. It enriches our lives, gives them meaning and purpose, and equips us to be responsible citizens, parents, teachers, and disciples. I hope the American Patriot Series will provide a measure of insight and encouragement toward that end.

J. M. Hochstetler writes stories that always involve some element of the past and of finding home. Born in central Indiana, the daughter of Mennonite farmers, she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Germanic languages. She was an editor with Abingdon Press for twelve years and has published four novels. Daughter of Liberty (2004), Native Son (2005), and Wind of the Spirit (March 2009), the first three books of the critically acclaimed American Patriot Series, are set during the American Revolution. One Holy Night, a retelling of the Christmas story set in modern times, is the 2009 Christian Small Publishers Fiction Book of the Year and a finalist for the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Long Contemporary Book of the Year.

Hochstetler is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, Nashville Christian Writers Association, and Historical Novel Society. She and her husband live near Nashville, Tennessee.

You can find Joan online at or at this book’s blog


  1. Thanks for hosting Joan today. Her post looks great. If you or your readers are interested, there is an excellent video trailer for Wind of the Spirit posted on Joan's website at

    I hope you and your readers have a wonderful holiday season.


  2. I second that book trailer recommendation. It's one of the best I've seen.

    And WOTS is an exciting read!